Greetings to all my Insecure Brethran and Sisterns (?) out there. Today's offering comes from a very Vitamin D-deprived-seasonally- depressed writer who has yet another super-sized order of snow looming in her forecast—again! Sorry for the sass-fest but I feel the need to whine and who but you could better commiserate with my self-doubts and insecurities in a matter such as this?
As of late I have been reading much of what NOT to write. Some of my favorite bloggers have been partisan to the sharing of this information, and I mean no disrespect, for you have offered it fairly and with many well-placed caveats, but honestly, I’m far too fragile for such fodder. I get a sick head-ache from contemplating the all too familiar pedestrian nature of my own writing, so apparently filled with these foibles and faux pas, it makes me want to chew a few Bufferin, find the nearest divan and faint dead-away.
You know what I’m talking about. The dreaded LIST. “The top ten things never to put in your fiction” kinda parasitical lists that stalk the writing world looking to bloodsuck the creative juices out of every unconfident, neophyte writer out there.
*Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. (Keep ‘em guessing is my motto!)
*Don't go into great detail describing places and things. (Sense of place is like—so last year!)
*Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue and never use an adverb to modify the verb "said" as in “ He said gravely.” (Now we’ve NEVER seen this done, right?)
*Never use “ing” verbs or “ly” adverbs. (Effing Hell. Total rewrite.)
*Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. (Bummer!!!!!)
Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose". This rule doesn't require an explanation. (Yet suddenly, I want one.)
Show don’t tell. (Everybody’s favorite!)
Be specific; not vague. (How vague is THAT?)
Avoid using: Really, you, feel, think, as, a lot, sort of, kind of, like, just and used to. (There goes my word count.)
See now? I’ve gone and given myself an eye twitch. I find this list is also affecting my reading, as I have been programmed and directed to turn over all infractions to the literary police, and they are everywhere! (The infractions--not the police.)
This type of creative coercion was made popular by author Elmore Leonard in his book "Ten Rules of Writing" (above) and is still regarded by many as the bar for excellence though this is the man who also brought you this:
So, in the spirit of “growing as an artist” and “developing my craft” I thought, “Let’s give it a shot, shall we? Give it the old college try?” So I took a sample of my latest WIP and subjected it to the austere standards of The List: I removed the superfluous verbiage, those irascible exclamation marks, and all the redundant, excessive, unnecessary words that so clutters my elementary prose and I was truly amazed by the results! This is what I was left with:
Well I’ll be damned. It worked.
Get you the heck back to the IWSG list!